Magnolia Pictures Boards Documentary ‘Citizen Ashe’ for Oscar-Qualifying Theatrical Run (EXCLUSIVE)

Following its Oscar-qualifying theatrical run, the Rex Miller and Sam Pollard directed documentary will have its broadcast premiere on CNN and streaming premiere on HBO Max.

Arthur Ashe and Nelson Mandela in Citizen Ashe
©Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe/Courtesy CNN Films

Magnolia Pictures has come aboard the documentary “Citizen Ashe” from Emmy winner Rex Miller and Academy Award nominee Sam Pollard. The nonfiction awards hopeful will be heading to theaters on Dec. 3 in New York and Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, hoping for Oscar recognition at the height of awards season.

Accompanying an Academy campaign, and produced by Dogwoof for CNN Films and HBO Max, the film explores the legacy of three-time tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, who broke barriers in the sport and won three Grand Slams. Despite being a top athlete, Ashe struggled with health problems, suffering a heart attack at 36. He contracted HIV due to a blood transfusion that occurred when he had heart surgery, dying of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993 at the age of 49.

“Sam Pollard and Rex Miller have delivered an exquisite, moving look at the life of a true iconoclast, one who forged his own path and defied stereotypes at every turn,” said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles.

Pollard spoke with Variety about the film, saying, “Everything he did on the tennis court was classy, and that carried over off the court.”

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy, not only as a tennis great but also as a trailblazer in the fight for racial justice and equality, will resonate strongly with audiences today,” said Courtney Sexton, senior vice president for CNN Films who, along with Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, is an executive producer

The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival back in Sept and will premiere internationally at the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 10.

Dori Begley and John Von Thaden negotiated the theatrical distribution deal on behalf of Magnolia Pictures and Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs for CNN Worldwide, negotiated on behalf of CNN Films.

“Citizen Ashe” is produced by Beth Hubbard, Rex Miller, Dogwoof CEO Anna Godas, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Steven Cantor, and Jamie Schutz. David Acker, William Ackman, David Barden, Geralyn Dreyfous, Nina and David Fialkow, Alex Gibney, Patty Quillin, Rick Rosenthal, Regina K. Scully, Tony Tabatznik, David Ulich, Steven Ungerleider, and Mike Jackson on behalf of Get Lifted Film Co. and his partners, John Legend and Ty Stiklorius, are executive producers for the film.